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Châteaugiron (Municipality, Ille-et-Vilaine, France)

Kastell-Geron

Last modified: 2020-09-12 by ivan sache
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Flag of Châteaugiron - Image by Ivan Sache, 5 October 2011


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Presentation of Châteaugiron

The municipality of Châteaugiron (Breton, Kastell-Geron; 9,966 inhabitants in 2017; 2,352 ha; municipal website) is located 15 km south-east of Rennes. The new municipality of Châteaugiron was formed on 1 January 2017 as the merger of the former municipalities of Châteaugiron (870 ha), Ossé (1,189 inh.; 899 ha) and Saint-Aubin-du-Pavail (822 inh.; 583 ha). Until 1971, the municipal territory of Châteaugironwas mostly restricted to the surroundings of the castle (52 ha); its area dramatically increased with the incorporation of the former municipality of Veneffles (326 inh. in 1968) and of some parts of the neighboring municipalities of Domloup and Noyal-sur- Vilaine.

Châteaugiron emerged around a castle built in the beginning of the 11th century. Anquetil (d. 1093), a baron of Brittany of Normand origin, was granted in 1008 by Duke of Brittany Alan III a domain located near Noyal, where he built a wooden keep. At the time, the place was part of the Marches of Brittany, that is the land borders of the Duchy; the castle was aimed at protecting Rennes from south-eastern attack. Anquetil was succeeded by his son, Giron (d. 1096), who partially rebuilt the castle with stone. As one of the Breton lords who supported William the Bastard in the battle of Hastings in 1066, Giron was rewarded with several domains in conquerred England. His grandson and successor, Galeran, renamed the domain for his grandfather, Giron's castle (Châteaugiron).

In the 12th century, Châteaugiron was the seat of a barony with jurisdiction over 16 parishes. The barons remained loyal to the Dukes of Brittany. Patry II, as an ambassador, brought back the bride of the duke from England (1382) and Navarra (1386). Hervé died in 1404 during John V's visit to his suzerain, the King of France. At the time, the lord of Châteaugiron became the hereditary Chamberlain of the Duke of Brittany. Dame Valence was appointed in 1408 Warden of the Duchess' jewels. Her son, Armel II, commanded one of the three Breton battalions that escorted in 1408 the Queen of France on her way back to Paris from Melun, where she had moved after the murder of the Duke of Orléans by John Fearless. The Châteaugiron lineage ended with Patry III, whose daughter Valence transferred the barony to her husband, Geoffrey of Malestroit, lord of Combourg.

In 1451, Valence was succeeded by her elder son Jean, who was elevated lord of Derval, one of the nine greater baronies of Brittany. Jean de Derval married Hélène de Laval, the granddaughter of the king of France, in 1450, and stayed in the castle from 1457 to 1482. In 1472, the alliance between Brittany and England, set up to prevent incorporation of the duchy to France, was signed in Châteaugiron. Jean de Derval was fond of arts; his secretary Pierre Le Baud wrote in the castle the first history of Brittany (Compillation des cronicques etystoires des Bretons, 1480) for Duchess Anne, which he later served as her chaplain. The original manuscript, dedicated to Jean de Derval and H&ecute;lène de Laval, includes an illumination (image, French National Library) representing a castle. The medievalist Stéphanie Vincent-Langlois (website) solved the "illumination enigma" (L'énigme de l'enluminure, 2009), proving that it represents Châteaugiron, and not Derval, as claimed by other scholars.

After Jean de Derval's death, Châteaugiron was successively transferred to the noble families of Rieux, Laval and Acigné. Judith d'Acigné married Charles de Cossé in 1579, so that the barony was transferred to the Cossé-Brissac family. In 1589-1594, Châteaugiron experienced hard times during the War of the Holy League. The Duke de Mercœur, Governor of Brittany and member of the League, attempted to restore the Duchy of Brittany for his own profit; the village of Châteaugiron was looted and nearly deserted, while Judith d'Acigné had to leave the castle.
Peace was re-established in 1595 only when the King of France appointed Charles de Coss&ecute; Lieutenant-General, and subsequently, Governor of Brittany, after he had defeated Mercœur. Made Duke and member of the Regency Council by Catherine de' Medici, Cossé left Châteaugiron in 1611. His descenders sold the barony in 1701 to René Le Prestre de Lézonnet, Treasurer of the States of Brittany, who modernized the castle and purchased the Marquisate of Espinay, calling himself Marquis de Châteaugiron. In 1794, the Le Prestre offered the keep and the clock tower to the new municipality, called for a while Montgiron, and sold the castle. The last member of their lineage, Hippolyte Le Prestre, a noted officer and diplomat, died in 1802.

A small town developed around the castle, favored by the creation of the Sainte-Croix priory by monks from the Sainte Melaine abbey in Rennes. As opposed to Fougères and Vitré, the civil settlement did not increase too much and never challenged the lord's rule. Châteaugiron was until the middle of the 19th century a noted center of production of fabric for sails, locally called noyales.

Ivan Sache, 5 October 2011


Flag of Châteaugiron

The flag of Châteaugiron (photo, Hervé Prat) is horizontally divided blue-yellow (1:3).

The flag is a banner of the municipal arms, "Or a chief azure", which were, as expected, the arms of the Barons of Châteaugiron. Dom Morice reports the seal of Patry II, dated 1376, showing these arms. He also reports the seal of Alan II, dated 1306, as bearing the arms "Vair a bend gules charged with three scallops argent".

Ivan Sache, 5 October 2011